Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has rejected allegations of power abuse in the appointment of local community mobilisers (penggerak komuniti tempatan, or PeKT), saying it was an extension of Putrajaya’s National Community Policy which received Cabinet approval in November 2018.
“Clearly, the appointment of PeKT is not for political reasons but an effort by the government through the ministry to strengthen the National Community Policy,” said a statement released by Zuraida’s office.
It came in response to a claim by the Coalition for Local Democracy, or Dekat, a group whose launch Zuraida herself had attended last year, accusing her of abusing her ministerial powers by appointing PeKTs.
The group even called on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate Zuraida for abuse of power.
But an aide to Zuraida said there was no question of PeKT taking over the role of local councillors, adding that such accusations arose due to confusion “by certain politically motivated parties”.
“PeKT appointees go through a screening process by the ministry. Applicants also need to fill up forms and follow a set number of criteria,” the statement said, adding that appointments were not made randomly.
It further said PeKTs were distributed according to zones with roles that do not collide with those of local councillors.
The statement said appointees would be given allowances to carry out community-based programmes such as educating homemakers on fire safety, community farming, recycling and encouraging active involvement in local governance.
“The performance of every PeKT appointee will be evaluated every four months. They are also tasked with reporting about their activities and programmes to the ministry, to ensure they carry out their roles as instructed by the ministry,” it added.
When it was launched last year, the National Community Policy was welcomed by then-prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who said it would help in the creation of a more civic-conscious society.
“The implementation of this policy will motivate the people to be a responsible society and care for their properties and its environment, the space and facilities shared within their local community while enjoying a comfortable, safe and clean surrounding,” he said.
The ministry had identified 133 low-cost flats nationwide to implement the programme, with the Lembah Subang 2 area selected as the pilot project.